"Too busy, under-resourced and overcrowded"

About: Guy's Hospital

I underwent two surgeries after I detected a rare breast tumor called phyllodes during a self-examination in January. After the second surgery, the surgeon told me (about the tumor) "It can come back, but benign". This has left me feeling anxious because the standard treatment for a phyllodes tumor involves removing a safe margin of healthy tissue to prevent recurrence completely, since it is aggressive and prone to return to begin with. Moreover, it can return as borderline or malignant. The first surgery was for removal of the tumor (initially diagnosed as a fibroadenoma) and the second one for removal of a margin (rim) of healthy tissue in the place where the tumor was, to prevent recurrence. Throughout the surgeon was a bit flippant, dismissing my fears and anxieties as childish. I was not explained why "it can come back". The final aim of the second surgery should have been to completely prevent recurrence. The surgeon explained to me the width of the margins obtained at the biggest and narrowest point. I gather the narrowest point is under the skin, but did the surgeon remove some skin as well? Why is the surgeon saying it can come back? Not enough information left me feeling anxious. I got the impression they are a bit overworked and the breast department a bit under-resourced. I understand it's not their fault, but patient care suffers as a result of this.

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Responses

Response from Guy's Hospital

I am very sorry to learn that you were not given clear or reassuring information during your appointments with your surgeon. I am especially concerned that you experienced your anxieties being as dismissed and belittled. Unfortunately, based on the information in your comments, I am unable to provide an explanation of what occurred. I am sure the Breast Surgery department would wish to do everything possible to answer your questions and to offer you an apology for your experiences. If this sounds as if it would be a helpful next step but you no longer have a direct contact in Breast Surgery, I hope you will contact the hospital’s PALS (patient advice and liaison service) on 020 7188 8801 or at pals@gstt.nhs.uk.

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